Red Rising by Pierce Brown
With school starting up again, teens are about to have much less free time for lounging around while reading a good book. However, that doesn't mean recreational reading has to come to a complete halt! Here are a few intense sci-fi novels that will have any teen on the edge of their seat, dreaming about worlds beyond.
Illiuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
When the planet of an illegal mining settlement is brutally attacked, only a few hundred survivors make it into escape ships. As they embark on a journey to escape their attackers and seek help from distant space stations, the survivors realize that not everything on their two ships is as it seems. Told through various points of view, Illuminae stretches the imagination and forces readers to contemplate science, humanity, and so much more. The novel is crafted through a series of military files, artistic renderings of artificial intelligence, interviews, and most predominantly, instant messages. Therefore, it's unlike anything you've ever read. Described as "heart-stopping," this is one heroic tale you don't want to miss.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
In Darrow's world, everyone is divided by caste. He is a Red, the lowest of the low, and is forced to do physical labor while those above him reap the benefits. After he faces a great tragedy, he gives up the life he knows and attempts to infiltrate The Institute. There, he struggles with members of the top caste, Gold, and begins to alter the balance of power in his injustice society. Emotional and incredibly intelligent, Red Rising will have you gasping aloud and racing to finish the story. Although it's probably not appropriate for younger teens due to pretty heavy violence, older teens will get a real kick out of Darrow's brave character and the extreme scenarios he faces.
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
They have invaded Earth, and only a small percentage of the human population exists after the devastating aftermath of their arrival. No one knows who they are for sure or what they want, but one thing is clear: no remaining human is safe. Cassie, a teenage girl who managed to survive the initial invasion, wanders the woods alone. She believes going solo is the only way to stay alive, especially since some of the invaders look like regular humans. When she meets Evan Walker and learns that she may be able to save the brother she lost, she must decide whether to trust a stranger or to give up on the only family she has left. Although there is a movie adaptation of this novel, don't let that deceive you: the book is always better.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
When 17-year-old Amy awakes on the vast spaceship Godspeed, she knows something has gone terribly wrong: She was supposed to sleep for another fifty years until the ship reached a new planet. Someone else on the ship woke her up and tried to kill her, and if she doesn't figure out who is behind the incident, everyone else sleeping aboard the ship may be in danger. Her number one suspect, Elder, is supposed to inherit leadership of the ship while it is in transit. However, things get more complicated than Amy could ever have imagined, and she must decide whether to follow her heart or her gut. Brilliantly told, Across the Universe is a futuristic love-story that's both provoking and entertaining.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This retelling of the Cinderella tale is unlike any other you've heard before. 16-year-old Cinder has been a cyborg for as long as she can remember, and she faces the benefits and struggles of her condition. Her stepmother and many other members of society view her as a freak, but she also has the uncanny ability to fix everything from robots to spaceships. When the prince of New Beijing needs some repairs done, Cinder enters a world of political turmoil and dangerous secrets. Extremely original, Cinder is a fast-paced novel that thousands of readers have devoured.
What are your favorite young adult science fiction novels? Leave other recommendations in the comments!